[Closed] Mobile By Sainsbury’s: The Low Cost Mobile Network With Bonus Nectar Points

July 7th, 2015

Mobile by Sainsbury’s is a low-cost network with 3G coverage from Vodafone. Customers can earn bonus Nectar points on their shopping and fuel purchases from Sainsbury’s.

Important Information: As of October 14th 2015, Mobile by Sainsbury’s has shut to new customers. Existing customers will be able to continue to using the service until the 15th January 2016. Existing customers are advised to find an alternative as quickly as possible. For more information, read our blog post about the Mobile by Sainsbury’s closure.

Mobile By Sainsburys LogoIn the UK, Mobile by Sainsbury’s is a low-cost mobile network from Sainsbury’s, the UK’s third largest supermarket. Following in the footsteps of Tesco Mobile and ASDA Mobile, Mobile by Sainsbury’s first launched in July 2013 with coverage from Vodafone. Along with lower rates for calling, the key selling point of Mobile by Sainsbury’s is the ability to earn more Nectar points when shopping at Sainsbury’s.

For £10/month (or £8/month when you buy a rolling bundle), customers on the Pay As You Go service get 300 minutes, 5000 texts and 500MB of internet. For occasional users without a monthly bundle, the rates charged on Mobile by Sainsbury’s are currently 8p/minute, 4p/text and 5p/MB of internet.

In this article, we review Mobile by Sainsbury’s. We’ll look at their pricing and tariffs: both on Pay As You Go and on Pay Monthly contracts. We’ll look at the Nectar points reward scheme and whether it actually provides good value to the user. We’ll also compare Mobile by Sainsbury’s to rival offerings from other networks before looking at handsets, coverage and how to keep your current phone number.

Pricing & Tariffs

In the UK, Mobile by Sainsbury’s has two types of tariff: Pay As You Go and Pay Monthly.

Pay As You Go Bundles

Sainsburys Pay As You Go Bundles

With a bundle, you convert some of your Pay As You Go credit into a one-month allowance of calls, texts and internet.

Historically, Mobile by Sainsbury’s has been a Pay As You Go service. For anyone who uses their smartphone on a fairly regular basis, a bundle will normally offer better value than using the service on classic Pay As You Go.

With a bundle, you convert a certain amount of your Pay As You Go credit into a 30-day allowance of calls, texts and internet.

Currently, there’s a choice of three bundles on Mobile by Sainsbury’s:

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Sainsburys 300 5,000 500MB £10.00
Sainsburys 500 5,000 1GB £12.50
Sainsburys 800 5,000 2GB £15.00

Once you have a Mobile by Sainsbury’s SIM card, you can buy a bundle at any time. You can do this by texting either £10, £12.50 or £15 to 40775. You can alternatively buy a bundle on the phone by calling 40775 and choosing option 2. Bundles will each last for 30 days with any unused allowances expiring with it. Customers with an active bundle on their account can earn bonus Nectar points when shopping at Sainsbury’s.

Order a SIM card from Mobile by Sainsburys (free) »

To find out the remaining allowances in your bundle, you can either call 40775 or you can log in to the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website.

For a 20% discount on your bundle every month, you can choose to buy a rolling bundle online. With a rolling bundle, Mobile by Sainsbury’s will automatically charge your credit card or debit card for a bundle every month. The rolling bundle can be set up online by logging in to the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website.

Classic Pay As You Go

Top UpFor light and occasional mobile users, a classic Pay As You Go service is still available on Mobile by Sainsbury’s. With this service, you simply pay for your usage on a per-minute, per-text and per-megabyte basis. At present, Mobile by Sainsbury’s charges the following rates on Pay As You Go:

Calling Rates:
Voice Calls 8p/minute (any network, any time)
Calls to Voicemail 8p/call
Calls to Special Rate Numbers 15p/minute access charge
+ service charge from the company you’re calling
Messaging Rates:
Text Message (SMS) 4p
Picture Message (MMS) 25p
Internet Rates:
3G Internet 5p/MB

A full list of Pay As You Go rates can be found on the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website.

With the classic Pay As You Go service, there’s no commitment to topping up your phone every month. You simply pay for the airtime when you actually use it and there’s no expiry for the credit on your account. The only thing to make sure of is to use your phone at least once every 180 days (this is so the SIM card remains active).

Unfortunately, customers on the classic Pay As You Go service won’t earn bonus Nectar points when shopping at Sainsbury’s (you need either a Pay As You Go bundle or a Pay Monthly contract to benefit from the extra points).

Pay Monthly

SIM card

As of May 2015, Mobile by Sainsbury’s has started offering Pay Monthly SIM cards.

In May 2015, Mobile by Sainsbury’s launched a Pay Monthly service. Unlike the Pay As You Go product, the Pay Monthly service is a post-paid product where you undergo a credit check and where you pay with Direct Debit. In terms of pricing and allowances, it’s positioned identically to the rolling Pay As You Go bundles.

Network Minutes Texts Internet Monthly
Cost
Sainsburys 300 5,000 500MB £8.00
Sainsburys 500 5,000 1GB £10.00
Sainsburys 800 5,000 2GB £12.00

The Pay Monthly deals are all on a 1-month rolling contract. As with the Pay As You Go bundles, customers on a Pay Monthly tariff can earn bonus Nectar points when shopping at Sainsbury’s.

Nectar Points

Nectar Card

Once you have a Mobile by Sainsbury’s SIM card, you can start earning additional Nectar points. To opt-in to the Nectar card offer, you should text your Nectar card number to 40774.

Customers with a Pay As You Go bundle or Pay Monthly contract can earn extra Nectar points when shopping or buying fuel from Sainsbury’s.

All customers (including classic Pay As You Go) can earn Nectar points on their spending at Mobile by Sainsbury’s.

Order a SIM card from Mobile by Sainsburys (free) »

Shopping & Fuel from Sainsbury’s

Sainsburys Supermarket

Earn bonus Nectar points on all your shopping at Sainsbury’s.

Normally, when shopping at Sainsbury’s, you earn 1 Nectar point (worth 0.5p) for every £1 you spend. You also earn 1 Nectar point for every litre of fuel you buy at a Sainsbury’s petrol station.

For customers with an active Pay As You Go bundle or Pay Monthly contract, the Nectar points you earn from Sainsbury’s will increase. With one Mobile by Sainsbury’s phone number linked to your Nectar card, you earn 2 Nectar points for every £1 you spend at Sainsbury’s. You also earn 2 Nectar points for every litre of fuel you buy from Sainsbury’s.

With additional Mobile by Sainsbury’s phone numbers linked to your Nectar card, the number of Nectar points you earn can increase even more:

Number of linked Mobile By Sainsbury’s bundles or contracts
None 1 linked number 2 linked numbers 3 linked numbers
Shopping at
Sainsbury’s
1 point per £1 spent
worth 0.5p*
2 points per £1 spent
worth 1p*
3 points per £1 spent
worth 1.5p*
4 points per £1 spent
worth 2p*
Fuel from
Sainsbury’s
1 point per litre
worth 0.5p*
2 points per litre
worth 1p*
3 points per litre
worth 1.5p*
4 points per litre
worth 2p*

You can link a maximum of ten phone numbers to a Nectar card (see the terms and conditions for more information).

While the extra Nectar points are a fairly decent perk, it’s only really a worthwhile benefit if your family does most of their shopping at Sainsbury’s every week.

According to the Office of National Statistics, the average household spends about £250 per month at the supermarket (about £58 per week on average). Assuming your household does all of their shopping at Sainsbury’s, the bonus Nectar points from a Mobile by Sainsbury’s SIM card would be worth about £1.25/month on average.

Your monthly spend
on shopping
at Sainsbury’s
Number of linked Mobile By Sainsbury’s bundles or contracts
None 1 linked number 2 linked numbers 3 linked numbers
£50 50 Nectar points
worth 25p/month*
100 Nectar points
worth 50p/month*
150 Nectar points
worth 75p/month*
200 Nectar points
worth £1/month*
£100 100 Nectar points
worth 50p/month*
200 Nectar points
worth £1/month*
300 Nectar points
worth £1.50/month*
400 Nectar points
worth £2/month*
£150 150 Nectar points
worth 75p/month*
300 Nectar points
worth £1.50/month*
450 Nectar points
worth £2.25/month*
600 Nectar points
worth £3/month*
£200 200 Nectar points
worth £1/month*
400 Nectar points
worth £2/month*
600 Nectar points
worth £3/month*
800 Nectar points
worth £4/month*
£250 250 Nectar points
worth £1.25/month*
500 Nectar points
worth £2.50/month*
750 Nectar points
worth £3.75/month*
1,000 Nectar points
worth £5/month*
£300 300 Nectar points
worth £1.50/month*
600 Nectar points
worth £3/month*
900 Nectar points
worth £4.50/month*
1,200 Nectar points
worth £6/month*

* Based on 500 Nectar points = £2.50 to spend at Sainsbury’s. Nectar points can sometimes be worth more or less (e.g. depending on where you spend them and the offers currently available).

Customers with a Mobile by Sainsbury’s SIM card on classic Pay As You Go aren’t able to earn extra Nectar points on their shopping at Sainsbury’s.

Mobile by Sainsbury’s Spend

All customers on Mobile by Sainsbury’s (including those on the classic Pay As You Go tariff) can earn Nectar points on their spending at the network. Customers on Pay As You Go get 2 Nectar points when they top-up by £1. Meanwhile, Pay Monthly customers get 2 Nectar points for every £1 they spend on their bill.

At Sainsbury’s, each Nectar point is worth 0.5p. Hence, the Nectar points earned from your Mobile by Sainsbury’s spending is equivalent to getting 1% back on your top-up (you earn 10p of Nectar points when spending £10).

Comparison To Alternatives

Bundles with 500MB of Data

10 Pound Note

On Mobile by Sainsbury’s, it’s £10/month for 300 minutes & 500MB of data.

On Mobile by Sainsbury’s, you’ll pay £10/month for 300 minutes, 5000 texts and 500MB of internet (discounted to £8/month when you buy a Pay As You Go rolling bundle or Pay Monthly contract).

ASDA Mobile has a slightly cheaper deal at only £7/month for 300 minutes, unlimited texts and 500MB of internet.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile300Unlimited500MB£7.00
giffgaff250Unlimited500MB£7.50
O22501,000500MB£10.00
EE150Unlimited500MB£10.00
Vodafone150Unlimited500MB£10.00

Bundles with 1GB of Data

For £12.50/month, Mobile by Sainsbury’s has 500 minutes, 5000 texts and 1GB of internet (discounted to £10/month when you buy a rolling bundle or Pay Monthly contract).

With ASDA Mobile, you get a slightly larger allowance for only £10/month (600 minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB of internet).

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
ASDA Mobile600Unlimited1.5GB£10.00
giffgaff500Unlimited1GB£10.00
EE1001,0001GB£10.00
O21001001GB£10.00
Vodafone250Unlimited1GB£15.00

Bundles with 2GB of Data

15 Pound Notes

It’s £15/month for 800 minutes & 2GB of internet on Mobile by Sainsbury’s.

For £15/month, Mobile by Sainsbury’s will give you 800 minutes, 5000 texts and 2GB of internet (discounted to £12/month with a Pay As You Go rolling bundle or Pay Monthly contract).

If you’d like a larger allowance of data, giffgaff has 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 3GB of internet for only £12/month. Alternatively, for faster internet, get the £15/month EE Everything Pack. The EE Everything Pack comes with 500 minutes, unlimited texts and 2GB of double-speed 4G data.

NetworkMinutesTextsInternetMonthly
Cost
giffgaff500Unlimited2GB£12.00
EE250Unlimited4GB£15.00
ASDA Mobile1,000Unlimited3GB£15.00
O27502,0002GB£15.00
Vodafone500Unlimited4GB£20.00

For a full comparison of all the bundles available on each network, see our guide to the UK’s best value Pay As You Go bundles. For customers willing to sign a contract, Pay Monthly SIM cards can often give you even better value.

Handsets

Handsets

Most people bring their own handset to the network but you’re also able to buy a handset from the Sainsbury’s phone shop.

There are two ways of using Mobile by Sainsbury’s.

The first way is to use Mobile by Sainsbury’s as a SIM-only service. With this option, you should bring an unlocked handset of your own. Many people choose to keep a handset from their old network (if you choose to do this, see our guides on unlocking an iPhone and unlocking a Samsung Galaxy). You can also buy a SIM-free handset to use with the service (e.g. from Amazon.co.uk).

When ordering your SIM card from Mobile by Sainsbury’s, be sure to choose a SIM card of the right size. Some newer high-end smartphones require a nano-sized SIM card with many other devices using standard SIM or micro SIM. If you aren’t sure which size of SIM card you require, see our list of smartphones and the size of SIM card required in each one.

The second way of using Mobile by Sainsbury’s is to buy a handset directly from the Sainsbury’s phone shop. Handsets currently start at £9 for a feature phone and £25 for a smartphone.

Network & Coverage

2G & 3G Coverage from Vodafone

Vodafone Coverage

Using the 2G and 3G networks from Vodafone, Mobile by Sainsbury’s has 99% population coverage across the UK.

Mobile by Sainsbury’s is a virtual network operator making use of coverage from Vodafone. Using Vodafone’s 2G and 3G network, Mobile by Sainsbury’s has 99% population coverage across the UK.

Before ordering a SIM card from the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website, we strongly recommend you check the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website:

Check Mobile by Sainsbury’s Coverage »

Customers on Mobile by Sainsbury’s will get the same 2G and 3G coverage as customers on Vodafone.

4G Coverage

Unfortunately, 4G coverage isn’t currently available on Mobile by Sainsbury’s. In common with other MVNOs using the Vodafone network, customers of Mobile by Sainsbury’s are restricted to having only 2G and 3G coverage.

At the time of writing, there haven’t been any announcements relating to 4G on Mobile by Sainsbury’s. As such, we don’t currently have an estimated launch date for the service.

Traffic Management: No Tethering or VoIP

iOS8 Tethering

Tethering & personal hotspot are prohibited on Mobile by Sainsbury’s.

There’s a traffic management policy for the Mobile by Sainsbury’s network. Unfortunately, it prohibits the use of tethering or personal hotspot (this is when you share your smartphone’s internet connection with another device e.g. a laptop or tablet). Usage of voice-over-IP (e.g. FaceTime and Skype) is also prohibited by the policy:

We don’t allow you to use data for calls over the internet (this is sometimes called VOIP), sharing data files, giving other people access to your mobile over the internet or using your mobile as a modem (this is sometimes called tethering). If you do, we can block access to these services or restrict performance, by reducing the speeds at which you can use the internet to download or upload content.

If you’re looking for a mobile network where you’re able to tether, see our guide on the tethering policies for each UK mobile network.

Keeping Your Phone Number

If you’re changing from another mobile network to Mobile by Sainsbury’s, it’s a straightforward process to keep your current phone number.

Start by ordering your SIM card from the Mobile by Sainsbury’s website (it’s free when you order the SIM card online). Once you’ve ordered the SIM card, contact your old mobile network and ask them for a PAC Code. A PAC Code is your legal entitlement: it allows you to transfer your phone number to Mobile by Sainsbury’s.

When your new SIM card arrives from Mobile by Sainsbury’s, place it in your phone and make sure everything works. You should then contact the Mobile by Sainsbury’s customer support line on 40775 (it’s free when you call from your Mobile by Sainsbury’s SIM card). After giving them your PAC Code, your phone number transfer will normally be scheduled for the next working day.

For a step-by-step guide on moving your phone number to Mobile by Sainsbury’s, please select your current mobile network from the dropdown menu below:

PAC Code Finder: Transfer Your Number To Another Network

Your current network provider:

Your new network provider:

  More Information

For more information on transferring your phone number between networks, see our guide to using a PAC Code.

More Information

For more information, please see the official Mobile by Sainsbury’s website.

Like this tip? Get the most from your mobile phone...

  • Discover brand new ways to use your mobile phone
  • Techniques to get more out of your mobile phone for less
  • Be the first to learn about new mobile technology

Enter your email to receive free regular Ken's Tech Tips:

About Ken

Ken Lo

My passion is helping people to get the most out of their mobile phone. I've been blogging at Ken's Tech Tips since 2005.

Aside from writing about mobile technology, my interests are in software development, digital marketing and physics. Outside of the blog, I work with numerous technology companies helping them to explain their product and helping them to market it to consumers. Please get in touch for more information.

Your Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 16 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  1. Peter said:

    I seriously suggest you rethink your review of Mobile by Sainsburys as they have today [14th October 2015] advised their customers that from January 2016 they are discontinuing their service. As in bye-bye, it’s been good to know ya. Go find another network!

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Peter,
      Thanks for the heads up on this! I’ve added a link at the top of this article to my post on the Mobile by Sainsbury’s closure.
      Thanks again,
      Ken

  2. Bin said:

    Does Mobile by sainsbury still use VDF network? or shift to EE already?

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Bin,
      Thanks for your comment. Mobile by Sainsbury’s is still using the Vodafone network – I’m not aware of any planned changes to this arrangement. You may possibly have got mixed up with ASDA Mobile (they moved from Vodafone to EE in October 2013). For more information, you can see my in-depth guide to UK mobile coverage.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      1. Bin replied:

        thanks a lot for your explanation , one more question , may I buy EE monthly pay contract in Sainsbury phone shop?

        1. Ken Lo
          Ken replied:

          Hi Bin,
          Thanks for getting back to me! I’m not sure whether the Sainsbury’s Phone Shop offers a contract from EE. On their website, it doesn’t look as if they do (I can only see O2, Vodafone and Virgin).
          Ken

  3. Ian said:

    Their tariff sheets published on their website appear to show they have not complied with Ofcom’s new Clear Call Rates for Everyone split charge call pricing system for 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers. The deadline was 1 July 2015.

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Ian,
      Thanks for your comment. According to this page on the Sainsbury’s website, there’s a 15p/minute access charge for “0843/0844/0845/0870/080/084 numbers”. For some strange reason, however, 0871 and 0873 numbers are listed as 20p/minute and 09 premium rate numbers are listed as between 20p/minute and 620p/minute. Is this what you’re mentioning in your comment about them not complying with the Ofcom regulations?
      Many thanks,
      Ken

      1. Ian replied:

        There should be a single Access Charge stated covering all 084, 087, 09 and 118 numbers. Sainsbury Mobile doesn’t appear to have complied. It’s now four weeks since the change of rules came into force.

        The caller then adds the Service Charge declared by the organisation they want to call in order to obtain the full call price.

  4. Audrey said:

    Hi,am on sainsbury network,pay as u go. But 3 times in last 6 weeks havnt been able to send picture messages,first they said SIM card so got new one,no joy.they said work being carried out and customer service told me change settings then worked ok,not sending again even with new sim,it’s i phone 4s,thanks

    1. Ken Lo
      Ken replied:

      Hi Audrey,
      Thanks for your comment. If you aren’t able to send a MMS picture message, this is normally due to having the wrong APN settings on your smartphone. Have you tried following the instructions here on setting up the Mobile By Sainsbury’s APN settings?
      Ken

    2. Audrey replied:

      Thanks ken,all the settings ok but still won’t send,been told work still being carried out but vodaphone shop said there isn’t and that they have had no other complaints

  5. Lee Waldron said:

    Hi I have a motorola defy mini unlocked.The problem is that Sainsbury’s SIMs don’t work in it(I’ve tried 2)They work fine in another phone,and other SIMs work in my phone,but mysteriously not Sainsbury’s.Any ideas?Thanks Lee

    1. Andy Tate replied:

      Hi Lee,
      So glad I’ve read your post re the Defy Mini unlocked. I have had one of these for about two years running happily on the old ASDA mobile network (Vodafone) and originally purchased unlocked from ASDA.

      I moved to their new EE based network but the reception where I live was poor indoors whereas the vodafone works fine.

      So I bought a Sainsburys sim and had EXACTLY the same problems as you. Sainsburys mobile help line just says “buy and try a new sim”. Like you I tried many other sims successfully in my Defy but the sainsburys one always comes up with an error message “the application process.com.settings has stopped unexpectedly” and the signal bar goes out with a X on it. Trying to make a call and I get “turn of Airplane mode first”. Go into settings and try to alter airplane mode and more process stopped messages. Try and edit the APN list in Settings/Networks and the app crashes back to the home screen.

      I have so far reset the cache partition (this was suggested elsewhere – by power on with UP and DOWN vol buttons depressed, then tap power, select option with UP or DOWN and then press CAMERA button to select)

      Any more ideas welcomed before I try resetting to factory after backing up all my apps.

    2. Andy Tate replied:

      Further update.

      I have been onto Sainsburys support line. They suggested I buy another sim incase there was an error. I did that and just the same.

      I have had a long online chat with Motorola support and they suggest the sim is incompatible with their Defy range of phones. They have had similar incidents before.

      However they no longer support the Defy range and won’t be releasing any software updates for it. They said something about not enough memory in the phone – Okay for an Android update maybe but a simple fix to stop this problem ~ I don’t think so. Older Android phones that I have like ZTE Blade with similar versions of Android (2.3 series) work fine with that new sim.

      So will I be buying a Motorola phone in future ? I don’t think so !!! Even if their sales have recently increased and they are bought by Lenovo.

      Off to try other companies sims to see if all new sims have problems with Motorola Defy Mini phones.

      1. Andy Tate replied:

        Okay even did a factory reset from the quick boot menu – phone then reboots like new and STILL won’t work with Sainsbury’s SIM.

Leave a Reply

E-Mail Notifications: By default, I'll drop you an e-mail when there's a reply to your comment. If you don't want to receive such a notification, please select the "Don't Subscribe" option from the dropdown menu above.